Adding Value by the Forkful
Supporting Local Farmers & Producing Delicious Foods
If you love seasonal, local foods grown on family-owned, small to medium sized sustainable farms, and you love to cook, perhaps you’d be interested in starting a small business that combines the two. A class is being offered in Spokane on Monday, February 2nd to help people consider what it takes.
The Northwest Agriculture Business Center has teamed up with Washington State University for an all-day workshop on value-added product development. The information will assist people who want to create and sell prepared foods and beverages from locally sourced ingredients. Considerations include, what sort of health department rules exist? How do you package food to hold and be safe for later consumption? What options exist for entering the market and what’s a reasonable cost estimate to make a small business like this happen? With financial support from the Washington State Department of Agriculture, Fred Berman and Girish Ganjyal will travel to Spokane to share their expertise on the topic.
More and more consumers are interested in foods that are good for their family, good for the producer and good for the planet. Demand for locally produced prepared foods has been on the rise for several years, so now could be a good time to consider dreaming up something delicious and profitable.
Evidence of the growing popularity of locally produced foods exists on both sides of the equation – the farming side and the eating side. On the producing side of food, farmers’ markets continue to experience record attendance and sales around the country, while groups like FoodCorps that introduce young adults to farming are very competitive. And on the eating side of food, there is a resurgence of start-up consumer food co-ops, and the natural / organic foods category continues to experience double-digit sales growth. Sites like Agrilicious help consumers find all kinds of locally produced foods available in their area.
In the middle of that is a great business opportunity. A value-added food business makes it easier for consumers to support local year-round, either because the food can be held until the diner is ready to use it or because most of the cooking is done for them, or both. Jams, chutneys and juices are a great way to capture the flavors of summer and fall and enjoy later. Dried or frozen preparation does the same; think beef jerky, sausage, pizza, etc. Depending on what a person likes to do in the kitchen, or what s/he likes to eat, the sky is the limit on products to create and sell.
Classes offering this sort of knowledge are cropping up in more places. North Seattle Community College has a class offering January 10th. Spokane’s February 2nd all-day workshop provides a great chance to learn what it takes to make foods that can be resold to the public. Sign up today! Eastern Washington University has an incredible network of small-to-medium scale farmers and ranchers who produce a wide variety of products. Raw ingredients are readily available, so bring on the pickles, yogurt, hot sauce, prosciutto or any number of ideas you can create!